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Texans Pushed to Accept Pollution

Texas utility companies, backed by the Governor, want to install 18 more coal-burning plants in Texas. Dr. Robert Gluck, a physician who is also Mayor of Arlington, wrote, "Air pollution is making Texas families sick. More dirty coal plants will mean more asthma, lung disease, and premature deaths."

The Texas Committee for Environmental Equality held a number of hearings across the state. At the Dallas Public Library, a health care worker told them that asthma was the number one disease for North Texas Children and that its incidence was growing. A spokesperson for a faith-based environmental organization put it bluntly: polluting Texas is a sin!

Laura Miller, the Mayor of Dallas, put together a big coalition of municipal leaders from all over North Texas to oppose the coal plants. They, and environmental experts, predict more premature deaths, heart attacks, lung cancer deaths, ashtma attacks, hospital admissions, chronic bronchitis, and ER asthma visits. The utility companies say that Texas needs more electricity and that their proposal is the most economical way to get it, but they don't add in the additional health care costs.

TXU, the leading utility with sponsorship of 11 of the plants, says that they will reduce overall emissions 20%, but the environmentalists respond that TXU was already mandated by government order to reduce emissions 20% long before the coal plants became an issue!

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A large coalition opposing coal plants called for a rally at the state capitol on February 11 and a lobby day on February 12. Around 1,500 turned out on a dismal day to cheer for environmental responsibility. Speakers raised issues of health and global warming. The crowd was persuaded to stand behind a bill in the State Legislature to put a moratorium on new coal plants.

One could well ask the question, "Can capitalism solve the environmental crisis?"

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